Golden Years: the Tale of Drake and Lallinka

(OOC: The story continues! Written by both me and Drake, of course.)

Lallinka pours herself a glass of some Greyfields, sits back and puts her feet up. She pointedly ignores the letters on her table as she closes her eyes and takes a moment to herself. It’s been a long week and she figures she deserves the break before she continues with any work.

There is a loud knocking at the door. It is insistent and all too jolly.

“Really?” Lallinka groans, but puts her feet back down and gets up. She swipes the letters under the newspaper lying on the table, smooths down the dress she’s wearing, then walks towards the door. “Hello?” she swings the door open.

“Fondest greetings and salutations!” Exclaims Drake Dynamo. He grins from ear to ear and balances a large plate on one arm. “I did say we would have a proper dinner, and it is the weekend.”

Lallinka blinks and grins widely. She did not expected this, but it’s a nice surprise. “Mr. Neighbour!” she greets him, stepping aside to let her visitor in. “You’re nothing if not a man of your word. Please, do come in.”

Drake steps inside and takes a look around. “Cosy! But yes, I don’t believe I’ve introduced myself. I’m Doctor Drake Dynamo. Actually Professor Drake Dynamo. Well, I haven’t done much teaching lately, I’m more of the wandering sophist type. Not that I’m a sophist, I don’t teach people rhetorical- oh, I’ll just stop talking,” Drake rambles.

Lallinka laughs, shaking her head. “Lady Lallinka,” she outstretches her arm. “Pleased to make your acquaintance,” she smiles. “Please, sit down,” she gestures towards the chairs. “I’m afraid I wasn’t expecting any company, so I’m a little underprepared, but I can offer you some tea?”

Drake sets his plate down on the table, before shaking Lallinka’s hand. “Ah yes, I’ll take almond tea, if you have some,” Drake requests, apparently oblivious to the excessive cost of this surface treat. He takes a seat.

Lallinka blinks. Almond tea? She’d never even heard of it. “I’m afraid I am out of almond tea right now…” she says, going to put a kettle on the fire. “But perhaps I could offer you something exotic? I have a batch imported all the way from Khanate…”

Drake nods slowly. “Perhaps I might pass on that. Eastern oils don’t sit well with me,” Drake remarks. “Well they used to, but after my visit to Irem, I simply can’t stand them.”

“Oh,” Lallinka says thoughtfully, looking into her cupboard. “Would a simple Fungal tea suffice, then?”

Drake nods more heartily. “Yes that should do.”

“Splendid,” Lallinka says and begins preparations. “Are you hungry? As I said, I don’t have much, but I’m sure I should have something…” she eagerly tries to find anything that would pass as adequate refreshments for a welcome guest. She feels a little silly that she is so unprepared, but she doesn’t have guest over often, not unexpected ones anyway.

“I’m quite hungry, but I’ve brought a nice fungal casserole with me- consider it a housewarming treat,” Drake says with a smile.

“Oh,” Lallinka blinks, surprised. “Did you expect me to be underprepared?” she says in a teasing tone, but on the inside she wonders whether she truly looks so poor.

Drake shakes his head. “No, I’m just trying to be neighborly,” He remarks pleasantly. “Please, why don’t you sit and relax, I don’t need all this fuss on my behalf.”

“I’m just trying to be a proper host,” Lallinka smiles and pours the boiling water into the teacups before bringing a tray to the table. Only then does she finally sit down.

Drake uncovers the plate he brought along, revealing a steaming, gooey fungal dish. It looks less like a casserole and more like a deflated souffle. Drake frowns. “Well, it seems I’ll have to have a chat with Emma about the cooking,” Drake comments.

Lallinka’s eyes narrow ever-so-slightly at the mention of the woman’s name. “Emma?” she asks innocently, setting the teacup with fungal tea in front of Drake.

Drake takes a sip of tea before replying. “Yes, what about her?” He asks, oblivious to the intent of the question.

“Is that your wife?” Lallinka asks, keeping her features perfectly schooled. ‘It’s better to find out right away,’ she thought to herself, crossing her right leg over the left. She picked up her tea cup and sipped on the hot beverage quietly.

Drake pauses mid-sip of tea, before spitting it out in a burst of laughter. After a moment he composes himself. “I’m so sorry, I’ve made quite the mess, but that was rather funny of you. Emma, my wife? God no, she’s my sister. A bit of a wild one though,” Drake explains, using a handkerchief to wipe up the tea that went flying.

“Oh,” Lallinka deflates a little, the spark returning back to her eyes. “Well, I certainly am glad you find my curiosity that amusing,” she teases, grabbing a napkin to wipe the table in front of Drake clean.

As the two clean the table, their hands briefly brush. Drake hesitates for a moment before moving on, while Lallinka quickly snatches her hand back, hiding her blush in the tea cup.

“So then, are you new to London?” Drake inquires, sitting back in his chair.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Lallinka shakes her head slightly. “But I am new to this neighbourhood. That’s probably why we haven’t run into each other until now,” she adds, intentionally referencing the time they met for the very first time.

“Well, it’s certainly something around these parts. Lots of interesting folks in the Side-streets, all doing their own thing. And with all those crazy people out there- and yes, I believe some of them are quite mad- I find it appropriate to get to know one’s neighbors,” Drake says, with a little yawn.

“Are you tired already?” Lallinka questions. “It’s not even that late…I hope I am not boring you,” she says with a small smile.

“No, I was up early for a Saturday morning church service,” Drake answers, before cutting into the fungal dish in front of them. “Let’s see how this tastes.” He plates a piece and passes it to Lallinka.

“Thank you,” Lallinka eagerly accepts it. She’s been eyeing the casserole ever since Drake uncovered it, but it would have been bad etiquette to grab a piece or even ask for it. Her great-Aunt would have had her hide had she done that in her own house, not even being in the Tomb-Colonies would stop her from instilling good etiquette in her protegé.

Lallinka cuts a piece and chews on it slowly. “Mhm, it’s great! Please, relay my compliments to your sister.”

Drake nods as he eats some of the dish himself. “So you live all alone in this big mansion?”

Lallinka’s face turns more solemn as she nods. “I do now,” she sighs, turning to look out of the window. She brings her hands up to rub some warmth into them, as she suddenly feels colder, despite the fire roaring in the fireplace. There’s a glint, something reflects the candlelight… a wedding ring! On her left ring-finger!

Drake notices the suddenly-very-conspicuous ring. “Oh, that’s so sad. How did they die, may I ask?” Drake inquires.

Lallinka looks down at her lap as she answers. “We don’t really know. One day I got a message from an urchin, urging me to rush home, that my husband is not feeling well…and when I arrived…the doctor that had called for me only gave me the bad news. Said my husband was already gone when he arrived.” Her voice is a little strained and her back stiff - she is obviously uncomfortable talking about this.

“In a couple weeks, I’ll be a widow longer than I’ve been wearing this thing,” she says, looking at the ring. She is wrapped up in her thoughts, almost as though she forgot Drake was there. She remembers herself and gets up so quickly, the tea cups on the table clatter. “Forgive me, professor,” she says, her fists clenched. “Can I get you more tea?”

“Oh well, if you’re offering,” Drake answers, allowing his cup to be refilled. “I’m sorry for your loss, if it means anything. If you ever want company, know that the door across the street shall be always open for you.”

“Thank you,” Lallinka offers a half-smile as she carefully pours Drake some more tea. “What about you? Are you wed? Betrothed to someone?”

“No, no, until very recently I was much too busy for any sort of romance. There was a voyage, and a hunt of sorts, and somewhere in between I spent some time in prison despite never being charged with a crime. It was a wild time,” Drake says, rather nonchalantly. He takes a sip of tea.

Lallinka raises an eyebrow, her attention peaked by this admission. “Prison? A hunt? You, sir, must be more of an adventurer than you let on,” she smiles, pouring another cup of tea for herself as well.

“Prison was rather my sister’s fault, although I believe the detective involved was operating outside the law. I’m trying to find a way to settle down though, stop putting my life and friends’ lives in jeopardy and such,” Drakes replies.

“Those seem like incredible stories. I would love to hear them sometime,” Lallinka smiles. She forgets the decorum and helps herself to another piece of the casserole.

Drake shakes his bashfully. “Oh no, you don’t have to feign interest. You seem far too sophisticated to enjoy such a brutal story,” Drake protests.

“Aww, you flatter me too much, good sir,” Lallinka dismisses it with a wave of her hand. “What I enjoy are intriguing stories, and yours certainly sounds like one.”

Drake rises. “Alright, I’m glad to hear it. I’m afraid I ought to be going. Perhaps we could have a proper meal next week? If it’s not improper, might I call it a, shall we say, date?” Drake suggests, somewhat hesitantly.

Lallinka chokes on the piece of the casserole she’s been eating. She tries to clear her throat with the tea, which burns her tongue, and her eyes water. It is all very un-ladylike. She calms down, red in her face, both from the coughing fit and from the embarrassment that has overwhelmed her.

“I shall be very happy to come over for dinner next week. Unless you’ve changed your mind.”

“No that sounds lovely! I’ll see myself out then,” Drake declares, ignoring Lallinka’s minor fit, and exits the premises, and marches back across the street.

Lallinka sees Drake out and watches him leave for a couple steps. She closes the door before anyone can catch her staring, though. As she is clearing the dishes and remnants of food from the table, she sees her own reflection in a mirror hanging on the wall.

She looks younger than usual, with her hair down, red cheeks and a small, involuntary smile on her lips. She chuckles and shakes her head, feeling silly.

As she’s washing the dishes, she takes off her ring, as not to lose or damage it. She remembers the conversation she had with Drake about it. Her mood sours instantly and a shadow passes over her face. No, not silly, she thinks. Wrong.